Midsummer Night's Pause

Summers are supposed to be slow in the news business. Not this one.

It is good, from time to time, to take a break from comment on the news to comment about the news. Particularly in the summer. Many readers will have taken vacations in the past month. If you're one of them, think of this column as a guide to help you navigate through the issues you missed.

In our pages during July:

The Pope right-hand man described the Holy Father's meetings with Ali Agca.

Bush's faith-based initiatives came under fire from all sides.

A British politician decried the hunt for Down syndrome babies to abort.

The news we reported included: new anti-religion rules concocted by the psychological establishment, Marian apparitions in Rwanda, an abortion speaker stopped by a Catholic university, a feminist group's awards for liberal pro-lifers, one man's successful effort to ban convenience-store pornography, the New Orleans diocese's new lifestyle policy, an Episcopalian priest who became a Catholic laywoman, Mormon baptisms ruled invalid, the status of President Bush's outreach to Catholics, and how the Pope spent his vacation.

We even featured a number of animals: Michael, the gorilla who “dreamed” of world peace, Aslan the lion a publisher wants to “de-fang”, the goats of the Franciscan Life Center; and a shark whose life-threatening attack on a little boy was thwarted by a prayerful family and bishop.

All of that was in addition to headliner stories such as: John Paul II meeting Bush, the Pope in Ukraine, Milwaukee's cathedral renovations, new U.S. Communion norms, the mandatum, federal judges vs. Catholic teaching on contraception coverage, an archbishop's excommunication, the sainthood cause in Lady Diana Spencer's family, Canadian judges who ruled the Bible to be hate speech, and two high-profile cases in which priests’ secrets have become highly-sought evidence.

And so that our features writers don't feel left out, we should also note that July saw the fine debut of Irish columnist David Quinn, commentary on A.I. in Indepth and Arts & Culture features, books from the useful (Where Can You Find That in the Bible? and The One-Minute Philosopher) to the inspirational (My Life on the Rock), and travel destinations that give pilgrims Vietnam in California, Italy in New York, and Belgium in a Wisconsin wood.

This midsummer night's pause can serve as a reminder to readers (particularly those with renewals due in August) of just how much the Register brings you, week to week.

Scientists Outsmart Themselves

President Bush has yet to decide whether or not he will use executive privilege to fund embryo research.

Whatever the outcome of his decision — and we pray he will follow Pope John Paul II's warning and ban it — one reader has pointed out how the very discussion has scored a few points for pro-lifers.

By arguing for embryo research, scientists have basically ceded whatever remained of the argument that life doesn't begin at conception, but at some point later on. Scientists say they must use human embryos for their research because they need living tissue from a human. Animals won't do. Cadavers won't do.

In other words, scientists have assured us that embryos are both human and alive.

Unfortunately, the irony is that it's only because scientists know that embryos are living humans that scientists are so eager to pretend that their deaths-by-research don't matter.

But we should point out, again and again, the ground that science has conceded: Discussions about embryo research are discussions about ending human lives.